At Invitation of White House, Dr. Janice Gobert serves on AI and the Future of Learning panel

In August, 2022, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Educational Technology, with support from Digital Promise, held listening sessions about Artificial Intelligence (AI) with a broad cross-section of experts and stakeholders. The goal of these sessions was to gather input and ideas and engage in conversations to help the Department shape a vision for AI policy that is inclusive of cutting-edge research and practices while also informed by the opportunities and risks, including how to mitigate against bias in AI algorithms. Sessions included constituents in every sector of technology in education decision-making, including teachers, educational leaders, students, parents, technologists, researchers, and policy makers.

At the invitation of The White House, Janice D. Gobert Ph.D., Professor of Learning Sciences and Educational Psychology at Rutgers Graduate School of Education, participated as a panelist. Dr. Gobert’s research examines student science-learning processes using patented AI in a platform she and her team developed called Inq-ITS ( Inq-ITS assesses students in real-time as they engage in virtual science investigations including tasks such as forming hypotheses, planning and carrying out investigations, analyzing and interpreting data, warranting claims, and communicating findings. Inq-ITS also has a digital agent, Rex, driven by AI assessment algorithms, that helps students in real time on these science competencies, which reflect skills needed for 21st century STEM learning and careers. The group studies what kinds of supports lead to the greatest learning gains for students, and what kinds of supports best help teachers with their instruction and assessment of science inquiry.

“Computer-based systems need to be grounded in research on student cognition if they are going to be usable and helpful to humans,” says Dr. Gobert, “Technology for learning that is not guided by theories about how people learn is simply not going to be effective.” Learning Sciences theory was used to design and develop Inq-ITS, Inq-Blotter, and their AI algorithms to effectively help students and teachers with STEM learning and teaching.

Dr. Gobert works closely with her team of graduate students who use the Inq-ITS and Inq-Blotter systems to conduct research for their respective dissertations. Through research, they have developed AI algorithms that can reliably score students’ inquiry competencies for science. These algorithms replace teachers’ grading of students’ science competencies, including their written lab reports. “With our algorithms, we demonstrated that 30-60% of students are mis-assessed if the students’ writing is the sole criteria used for assessment. This is why assessment of the full range of expected science competencies is absolutely critical. Our algorithms can identify students who can ‘do’ science but are not as skilled at describing it in words, and those who are only parroting what they have read or heard but have not yet learned how to conduct science investigations.” said Dr. Gobert in an US News & World Report article (May, 2016).

The AI and the Future of Learning: Listening Sessions can be viewed, here.

For more information on Dr. Gobert’s research visit, here.